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Sebastopol newsletter urges opposition to county fluoride plan

Some Sebastopol residents, including a former city councilman, are objecting to a city-sponsored newsletter that urged people to oppose Sonoma County's consideration of a water fluoridation plan.

"Another embarrassment for Sebastopol," said Larry Robinson, a former three-term councilman who called the newsletter's article "totally inappropriate."

Robinson, who helped start the newsletter in 2000, said the article, headlined "Oppose Sonoma County Water Fluoridation," crossed a line between informing the public and engaging in advocacy.

"This does not represent city policy," Robinson said, noting that the newsletter, distributed six times a year in city water bills, "appears to represent the voice of the city."

Mayor Michael Kyes said he personally agreed with the article, but that the newsletter, "The Next Step" should not adopt "an advocacy position" until the council has done so first.

Asked about the ongoing practice under which no city official vets the newsletter's content, Kyes said: "I think that probably will change."

City Manager Larry McLaughlin said there is "no official city oversight" of the newsletter, which is "not intended to state city policy."

Sebastopol pays $490 a year to cover the cost of paper and copying the newsletter, produced "rather independently" by the editor, McLaughlin said.

Volunteers stuff the newsletter into city water bills, which incur no added postal costs by carrying it, the manager said.

Sebastopol operates its own water system, which filters and chlorinates water, and would not be directly affected by the county's proposal to fluoridate water delivered to 350,000 residents served by the Sonoma County Water Agency.


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